Trend Hunter: Playing With Light

BY Rue Kothari / Jun 11 2017 / 14:24 PM

Now’s the time to light up your life, says Rue Kothari, Fair Director of Downtown Design

Trend Hunter: Playing With Light
Lee Broom’s Time Machine at Milan Design Week. Image courtesy of the designer.
Trend Hunter: Playing With Light
Rue Kothari
Trend Hunter: Playing With Light
Luca Nichetto and Ben Gorham for Salviati

Busy people rarely have time for contemplation. Creative people need it, in order to be productive. For those of us in creative roles who are time-poor, the Design Week in Milan is one moment in the year when the international design community coalesces in a brief reverie, to learn, meet, be inspired and shake hands on deals. Many of us do the equivalent of six month’s work in that one week, and burn the candle at both ends to make it count. 

Lighting design is always, excuse the pun, a hot topic. Biannually, the Salone del Mobile lighting showcase, Euroluce, brings this to the fore. You only needed to witness the impossible queues to get into the Flos party, at this year’s Milan Design Week, to fully grasp just how much. Let alone the two-hour wait for a glimpse of Nendo’s ethereally beautiful study of separation that manipulated light so deftly, and Foscarini’s jam-packed ecclesiastical presentation celebrating the versatility of natural light directed into our spaces in a multitude of heavenly ways.

Within Euroluce itself, Preciosa pushed forward brilliantly with their Frank Tjep collaboration, embracing the brand’s trajectory from heritage classics to contemporary masterpieces. Witnessed on their stand was lauded New Zealand furniture-maker and champion of sustainable design David Trubridge, transfixed by their nature-inspired oasis of light. And he wasn’t alone.

Salviati Murano

This year exposed innovation in lighting, with new tools and technologies that allow lighting designers to illuminate spaces with energy efficiency, to benefit human interaction and deliver an ever more versatile aesthetic. This revitalised enduring trends, with the accent on mixed metals, super light and durable polycarbonate, geometric frames, amorphous organic shapes, hand-blown techniques, natural motifs and materials and a seemingly endless palette of nuanced, coloured glass.

As designers push boundaries, revive ailing crafts and reinvent relationships between past structure and future innovation,
we are bathed in a brilliant new wave of lighting design that inspires a fresh approach to how light defines space and our experience of it.

This was nowhere more evident than within the newly opened district of Ventura Centrale, cosseted in the abandoned railway arches behind Milan’s Centrale station. It was of course the perfect setting to showcase lighting, the patina of ageing walls and ambient darkness providing a theatrical foil for a dazzling display of light.

Easily the most Instagrammable was Lee Broom’s Time Machine, a very sophisticated modernist display of white-on-white lights slowly rotating on a fairground carousel. It was hypnotic, mesmerising and ‘very Lee’.

Italian glassmakers Salviati employed the erstwhile talents of Luca Nichetto and Ben Gorham to demonstrate the potential for classic glasswork, by creating 53 totem poles out of 23,000 sheets of glass, each one unique, and cut and coloured individually.

Set by Matteo Zorzenoni

Paying homage to seventies forms and colours, Matteo Zorzenoni created ‘Set’ a series of vignettes featuring furniture and blown glass pieces, in stark contrast to the gritty setting. It was eerie yet somehow so inviting.

Most intriguing was PASSAGES, where Panter & Tourron took their cues from nature, and how heat materialises: with the sun as it casts rays at dawn, mist rising from water or ice melting on a mountain peak. Light as it represents heat, was applied to a series of sculptural objects that were treated with thermochromic ink. The effect was a rise and fall of colour on the surface of the material, exposing the transformative nature of light and heat.

And it’s this transformation that is most pertinent as we are into the languid days of Ramadan, a time to retreat to favourite spaces for some well-deserved stillness and reflection. And what better to put you in the mood than the perfect glow?